Haggis, the national dish of Scotland is neither nice to look at nor kosher, but in Glasgow, Scottish Jews can partake in a kosher version of this much-celebrated dish at Scotland’s only kosher deli, Mark’s Deli.
Usually made with lamb organs that are not butchered according to kosher law, haggis is celebrated every January 25 on Burns Night, which commemorates the Scottish poet Robert Burns, who wrote the poem, Auld Lang Syne. You can also find it at fast-food eateries and grocery stores year-round.
What is haggis, exactly? It’s boiled sheep heart, liver and tongue, that’s minced, combined with beef fat, onions and toasted oats. The mixture is then stuffed inside of the sheep’s stomach and boiled. It’s sort of like a sheep-based kishke, if there ever was one. This kind of waste-not dish is one that can come only out of the truly hardscrabble lifestyle of medieval Scotland.
Keren Landmand recently explored the culture of haggis and its kosher reconfiguration in the culture, politics and food journal, Roads and Kingdoms.
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Scotland’s Burns loved haggis so much that he wrote a poem about it called Address to a Haggis, in which he labels French ragout and fricassee as “trash” in comparison. After Burns died in 1796, his friends initiated Burns Night, during which haggis is served and the poem recited.
Today, there are not only kosher renditions of this rich and hearty dish, but also vegetarian and vegan versions. Deli owner Mark Cohen makes his kosher haggis with ground lamb, barley and ground onions. Top with a splash of whiskey (yes, really!), and nosh!
Interested in making your own haggis? Here’s a few recipes that show you how:
Vegan Haggis from Emma’s Little Kitchen (lentils, mushrooms, barley)
Vegetarian Haggis from Great British Chefs (wrapped in cabbage leaves)
New-School Haggis from Babble (made with beef)
Haggis from The Guardian
Pronounced: KOH-sher, Origin: Hebrew, adhering to kashrut, the traditional Jewish dietary laws.